Reflecting on Whanganui’s Leading Edge Strategy
Published on June 29, 2023
Whanganui District Council chief executive David Langford says the council’s Leading Edge Strategy for Whanganui is set to be refreshed.
He says, “This year we have started a review of the strategy to set a vision that will guide Whanganui over the long-term and reflects the current challenges and opportunities the community faces.
“We want to achieve this through active partnership, working with Iwi, Hapū and the wider community. An important early step is to reflect on the Leading Edge Strategy and the way it has helped shape Whanganui since its adoption in 2014.”
A report was tabled at the council’s Operations and Performance Committee meeting on 29 June, 2023, outlining some of the key achievements of the strategy and identifying ongoing actions to help guide the review.
David Langford says, “Due to the vast array of activities that the council undertakes in any given year, this isn’t an exhaustive list, but it covers some of the significant work undertaken with the community under each strand – community, connectivity, creativity, environment and the economy.
“In the decade since the Leading Edge Strategy was developed, Whanganui’s population has increased to nearly 50,000, its town centre has been revitalised and digital and active transportation connectivity has vastly improved. Significant projects have been undertaken and our district’s reputation as a centre for design, heritage and innovation has blossomed. Fresh perceptions of Whanganui have brought people here to visit, do business and to live.
“As well as many highlights and achievements, the report includes a large number of ongoing actions,” he says. “While some of these are long-term, many of these actions have simply become embedded in the way we work and are now central to our partnership approach.”
“Much has been accomplished since the 2014 starting point, but now it’s clear that a new direction is required to guide the council and community for the next 10 years – we are going back to the core purpose of local government which is to promote community wellbeing in the present and for the future.”
Whanganui District Council is currently engaging with Iwi and Hapū to establish a partnership approach and policy manager Elise Broadbent says, “Our reflection document has been shared with each group for relevant feedback.
“One-to-one meetings also are being held with representatives of community, business and interest groups to help to inform the new strategy.
“We are gathering community perspectives early in the process and allowing an extended time for input and engagement through to completion next year,” she says. “This started during our annual plan process where we heard some of the big issues our community wants us to focus on for the long-term – business growth and economic development, housing and homelessness and climate change.”
Mayor Andrew Tripe says the review needs to ensure Whanganui’s identity is captured in the refreshed strategy. “It is particularly important that the vision and strategy is underpinned by our identity, our purpose, who we are as Whanganui.”
He says, “The current economic environment across the country is presenting us with some challenges – but we need to look forward 10 years, as this will be a long-term strategy, and set our sights on an ambitious and bold vision for the future.”
A broader community engagement programme is planned to start in July this year and a first draft of the refreshed strategy is expected by October, in time to feed into the development of the council’s 2024-34 Long-Term Plan.